Crisis-hit boat operators struggle to resume work

High operational cost a challenge

Even after lifting the trawling ban, many of the fishing boats are remaining on the shore, as boat operators are struggling to mobilise operational cost owing to high diesel prices and absence of subsidy support.

At the Beypore harbour alone, more than 100 medium-size boats and 50 larger boats are remaining idle.

Emergency repair works ahead of resuming fishing after the trawling ban period have also come as a challenge for many.

Boat owners say they have to shell out at least ₹4 lakh for the annual maintenance alone, including repainting works, at specialised yards.

In the absence of such facilities in Kozhikode district, many are in a situation to take boats to the repairing yards at Munambam.

Unable to withstand the crisis, the owners of more than 40 fishing boats from Beypore have already sold their boats at cheap rates.

A majority of such boats were sold, as the owners could not mobilise money for the mandatory annual maintenance work.

Some of them sold boats at scrap rates, as they were unable to repair them.

“Fishing is hardly a profitable business now with the uncontrolled fuel prices. Many are now waiting for their turn to sell off boats.

“At least ₹20 should be given as subsidy by cutting road tax for one-litre diesel if the government is truly concerned about the welfare of the segment,” says Karichal Preman, vice president, All Kerala Fishing Boat Owners Association.

“These days, the owner of a medium or large fishing boat will have to set apart at least ₹1 lakh for meeting the basic cost of operation. If they return to the shore empty-handed because of adverse weather conditions or other emergencies, they will definitely be in crisis to resume the job next day,” says Mr. Preman.

According to him, the loss of usual job days continues to be the biggest hurdle for creating a sustainable income.

Boat owners from Puthiyappa harbour say the lack of sufficient number of local boat maintenance yards also create a lot of trouble for them.

Only four small yards are now available in Kozhikode district, which can never meet the actual requirement of bigger boats.

They also point out that the boat repairing yard earlier proposed near the Puthiyappa harbour still remains a pipe dream.

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